U.S libraries are flourishing, helping play a critical role in supporting communities


Macey Morales

ALA Media Relations

312-280- 4393

For Immediate Release

June 12, 2007

U.S libraries are flourishing, helping play a critical role in supporting communities

ALA hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Bill Bradley, Julie Andrews, Armistead Maupin, hundreds of programs and exhibits at world's largest library conference in Washington, D.C, June 21-27

(CHICAGO) As the demand for library service continues to climb, more than 20,000 library professionals and supporters will gather in Washington, D.C., from June 21 to 27 at the Washington Convention Center for the American Library Association's (ALA) Annual Conference. It is the largest library conference in the world, and will serve as a forum for discussions on issues that impact libraries and their users. Key issues include technology, library users' privacy, literacy and providing services to new Americans and those with disabilities.

According to the ALA's State of America's Library report, library use is up nationwide among all types of library users. Thousands are flocking to libraries for free computer training and use, homework help and assistance with job searches. Almost 1.8 billion visitors checked out more than 2 billion items last year alone.

"Libraries service is in demand, yet budget cuts have led to the closure of several Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) libraries and all 15 libraries in Jackson County Ore., impacting thousands of lives," said ALA President Leslie Burger. "How can we make informed choices for ourselves and our families if we don't have access to information that could help shape our decisions?"

Robert Kennedy, Jr. will join American Library Association (ALA) President Leslie Burger for a discussion on the important role we all play in preserving the environment. The program titled "A Contract With Our Future," will foster a discussion on what steps need to be taken in order to ensure that future generations live in an environment that is safe, clean, and beautiful.

On Friday, June 22, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., hundreds will gather at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian at Fourth Street and Independence Ave., S.W. in Washington, D.C., to honor the American Library Association’s (ALA) President-Elect Loriene Roy. The event recognizes Roy’s accomplishment as the first American Indian to serve as ALA president.

Former Presidential candidate Bill Bradley will keynote the Opening General Session on June 23 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The subject of his speech will be: "What will it take to make America a better, stronger, truer country?" He also will explore what changes need to be made in major political parties, in our politics, and in citizen activism to ensure America's future.

The ALA Washington Office will discuss the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court during its legislative update session on June 23 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Royce Lamberth - former FISA Court chief judge - will discuss how the highly secretive court works, and how it has changed since the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.

The premiere showing of "The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians through Film" will be held Friday, June 22, at 8 p.m., Washington Convention Center Hall D. Doors will open at 7:30, and librarians will be the stars in a traditional Hollywood-style red-carpet walk. Written and directed by Ann Seidl, the documentary may hold some surprises even for librarians. Dozens of interviews with real librarians will be interwoven with movie clips of cinematic librarians and will serve as transitions between the themes of censorship, intellectual freedom, children and librarians, pay equity and funding issues and the value of reading.

On June 25 celebrated actress and children's book author Julie Andrews will keynote a special program celebrating the centennial of ALA's publication American Libraries. Andrews is a longtime advocate for children and literacy, and works with UNICEF and Save the Children. She will discuss the importance of libraries and literacy.

Acclaimed author Armistead Maupin will join Public Library Association (PLA) President Susan Hildreth on June 25 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. for the PLA President's program. Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City," "More Tales of the City," and "Further Tales of the City" have been the basis of three highly acclaimed TV miniseries. His new novel, "Michael Tolliver Lives," will be published in summer 2007.

The library community won widespread acclaim for their work in helping colleagues and fellow citizens in the Gulf Coast region begin their long recovery from the devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year. On June 22 and 26, conference attendees will volunteer across Washington, D.C., to help refurbish libraries and parks, build houses, and feed the hungry to show that libraries help transform communities.

Hundreds of conference attendees will participate in "Library Day on the Hill," on June 26 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to advocate on behalf of the nation's libraries. Librarians and library workers will meet with members of Congress to discuss the value of libraries. The halls of Congress will feature information booths that will inform passers-by about each school, academic and public libraries and the services they provide.

The conference will close with author Garrison Keillor, who will keynote the Closing General Session on Tuesday, June 26, at 8 a.m. Keillor is the author of more than a dozen books, including "Lake Wobegon Days," "The Book of Guys," "Love Me" and "Homegrown Democrat." He won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word recording, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters.

The conference will also offer more than 300 programs, and will feature a variety of newsmakers and best-selling authors including documentarian Ken Burns, Judy Blume, Khaled Hosseini, Irshad Manji, Marian Wright Edelman, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero and David Baldacci.

For more information on the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., please visit